Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Remarks: Preseason (game) 3. I felt like, it goes without saying, we got off to a slow start. I talk to our guys frequently about energy and enthusiasm. We didn’t really have that to begin with, and then you saw how one phase of the ball can pick you up. That punt return was just the spark that we needed and it was a terrific run, it was well blocked. There were a couple situations, a couple of blocks on that play where guys pulled off and it could’ve been penalties, so really smart play, an explosive play that got us going. (We) got better on defense, we found a way to score enough points, and ultimately win the game. There’s plenty to clean up. I was pleased with the way we threw the ball, especially with the ones. Not pleased with the way we ran the ball, certainly. But at the end, we found a way to carve out enough yardage running the ball to make it acceptable. We need to run the ball for our offense, but also for our team, and then we need to be efficient throwing the ball. In terms of injuries, I think the two that were talked about (were) Evan Engram with a concussion I think is what they said, and then Rhett Ellison with an eye. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s really anything else to report. With that, I’ll take your questions.
Q: Do you see any consistency with why the run game is struggling?
A: This is the second or third time you’ve asked me about the run game and to your point, it’s a team thing when you run the ball well and when you don’t run the ball well, it’s also a team thing. So, we’ve just got to go back and look at it and I think it’s important that we’re running the right paths and blocking the right guys.
Q: What do you make of a guy like Jonathan Stewart, a veteran who has 10 carries in the preseason for minus-five yards?
A: Yeah, we’ve just got to look at it. He’s a veteran player, he’s played football a very long time and he’s an outstanding player. So, we’ll just look at it as we go.
Q: Did you like the way Eli (Manning) moved? It seemed like you had him running a lot of play action. It seemed like he was handling that well.
A: Yeah, very well. He’s very fit for a 37-year old. There’s no reason he can’t run boots and nakeds. I think any quarterback, you need to be able to change the launch point and I think sometimes that helps the quarterback get completions outside the pocket and there’s absolutely no reason he can’t do that.
Q: You got some deep completions today with Eli. The one real deep one to Cody (Latimer), could that have been (a touchdown) - Cody had the man beat - if that was thrown out a little deeper?
A: No, I think that was a good throw. He got behind him and it was a big play action with a post and a deep cross, and the post got behind the defense and we connected on a very long play.
Q: How do you look at Hunter (Sharp’s) night? He obviously had the explosive night on special teams and seemed to struggle on offense.
A: He had a throw on the boundary on the left side early in the game which I think we’ll just have to look at it, I’d like to be able to complete that. Then we had one later against pressure that kind of hit him. I’ve really liked what he’s done through training camp. Those are two isolated plays, but he also got us in the end zone on a punt return, so there’s a lot of good things he did tonight.
Q: You said your return game was “unsettled” earlier this week, that was the word you used. Do you feel like he’s settling it?
A: Did I say that? I don’t’ really like that word. Or did you say it and I agreed?
Q: Actually, you said it twice, also about the offensive line.
A: Yeah, remind me not to say that word. I just think we want to make sure we’ve got the right guys doing the right things, and he obviously scored a touchdown today, which is kudos to him.
Q: What went into the decision to not play (Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley)?
A: Just not quite ready yet. We want to be safe with Odell. He’s doing a lot of great things, and just wasn’t quite ready.
Q: How much different is the play calling given that you don’t have Saquon and Odell?
A: We’ve got a lot of runs on the card and got a lot of passes, then I guess as a play caller you want to start finding things that get you (what you want). You want to make yards and you want to move the football, and we found a way get some chunks throwing the ball and also complete the ball and extend drives, so as that’s working, you just kind of lean on it a little bit, don’t get away from the run, but just kind of work towards what’s working.
Q: How about as an evaluator of the offense? Do you project what it would or could be like with those guys in there?
A: Yeah. You project what their effect might be but you just watch it for what it is as the guys are in there with the idea that those guys might be playing for you.
Q: After that first drive, what changes did you make defensively?
A: Not much, same play calls. I think we just played a little tighter in coverage. I felt like we did a good job of getting pressure and then it just felt like whether we were creating it, it just felt like they were kind of going backwards. You can see the effect penalties have on an offense where you get in those third and longer situations – we had one today, we hit the post late. But they’re tougher. There’s a reason when you’re third and 11-plus, the average is about 18 percent that you’re going to get it. That’s why you want to be in shorter down and distances and that’s why getting completions on first and second downs are important. That’s why positive yardage in the run game is important, so that you can have shorter distances to go.
Q: In the fourth quarter, you sent in a play from the sideline. Did they not line up right, because it looked like you went ballistic a little bit?
A: Yeah, I don’t know. We’ll have to look at it. Maybe I got upset, I don’t know. You just want to win and want our guys to perform well, so I was probably mad at myself.
Q: You said Odell’s not quite ready yet?
A: I just felt like we didn’t want to put him in there.
Q: I know but do you have any concern he may not be ready for the regular season?
A: We’ll see as we go. Being smart with him.
Q: With (Rhett) Ellison, I know you said eye (injury). Do you have any idea what happened?
A: No, I don’t know. Just a little bit blurry with his eye. Ronnie (Barnes) said it was his eye.
Q: What did you think of Ray-Ray Armstrong’s performance as he looks for a starting spot?
A: Ray-Ray did a good job. It’s a good question, and I’m glad I get a chance to talk about him because he’s caught our eye. Obviously he had an interception last week which was outstanding, and he’s playing good football and he’s getting better and better. I mentioned before, he’s long and he’s athletic, and he has what you’re looking for in a linebacker, and I feel like he’s done a really good job.
QB Eli Manning
Q: It seems like the offense was really in a rhythm tonight. What was working?
A: I thought we did a good job pushing the ball down the field, hitting some big plays. Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard had some good plays, Cody Latimer on the post. We didn’t do as good a job in the red zone, that’s something we will look at and work on, but I thought the passing game was going, we had some big plays.
Q: Describe what you saw on that deep pass to Cody.
A: Yeah, a post on him. We had a deep crossing route by Sterling that the safety jumped, good down the field, and Cody adjusted to the ball well and had a big play right there.
WR Hunter Sharp
Q: (Inaudible): What did you see on that punt return for a touchdown?
A: You can kind of like, I don’t know, show that it’s punting one way, and punt it the other way. You kind of got to jump on it. My return team just set up a great wall. I had great blocks the whole way, and kind of just convoyed me into the end zone.
Q: You finished it off with a nasty stiff arm. How do you practice a stiff arm?
A: That like my little signature right there (laughter). You don’t really practice it. You don’t get the chance to because we never get to go full in practice. But when you get a chance, you just got to be angry with it.
Q: You had a couple of drops today. How do you bounce back from that?
A: Its’s honestly hard for me even to be happy about the touchdown because I have high expectations for myself. Honestly, I just have to bounce back and keep working.
Q: Are the couple drops just a concentration thing?
A: It’s been a concentration thing. Got to keep my head in the game. The more work I get, the easier it gets.
Q: But in practice, you never drop a ball. So is it something that’s not translating?
A: I don’t know, honestly. Maybe thinking too much. I just have to continue to work.
Q: When you get that punt return, are you thinking you won the job?
A: I don’t want to say anything, but I think I’ve put my best foot forward, and I’m just going to keep working.
Q: Is that what you can bring to the team, in terms of special teams?
A: Yeah, I feel like I’m a playmaker. So, I feel like I can bring a lot to the team if I just get the opportunity. And I have to take advantage of every opportunity I get.
Q: After last week, did you feel as if you needed to make a play?
A: Yeah, I definitely did. This week, I thought about that all week. It kind of just motivated me to catch some extra punts and just focus on the small things.
Q: Can you talk about the blocking on that play?
A: It was great blocking. Everything was right on that play, everything went right. That’s what happens when everything goes right, you get a touchdown. I’m excited about this year and the punt return team that we have. The special teams coach, he pushes us.
Tackle Nate Solder
A: We had the blitz on the backside and got a tackle in the backfield right off the bat in the first couple of plays. We are overcoming that, throwing the ball in long yardage, we made some big plays, so we stuck with that. There’s a lot of factors to it, we have to keep working on that, improving on that, because that’s a big factor on offense.
Q: There’s proof that the older running backs get, the less productive they are. What have you seen from Jonathan Stewart beyond the box score, which says he hasn’t been good in preseason?
A: He’s a guy that works hard, he does everything he’s told. He’s a great teammate. I don’t know enough about analyzing his play.
Q: How much of it was what the Jets were doing, it looked like they were crowding the box a lot and bringing a lot of pressure, how much of that was a result of catching you guys a little on your heels?
A: I wouldn’t have used that term, but I think that they do have a good run stopping defense. That shouldn’t stop us from being at least efficient in the run game. You never want to lose yards in the run game. If you are gaining a few here or there, keeping it mixed up, that’s fine. When you are losing yards, no matter what the defense is doing, you are doing something wrong. We have to work at that.
Q: Do you ever think about who is getting the ball on a run play?
A: You block the play and do the best you can to scale up how the defensive guys play, and we have to keep working at that.
Q: Do you look at the numbers, which haven’t been good and have concern about that?
A: My concern is to do the best I can with everything. I screwed some things up, so I need to improve those and everything else falls behind each individual taking care of their job.
Q: When you look at the last two games, 30 points against the Lions, 22 tonight, you haven’t had Odell on the field and you‘ve only had Saquon for one game, are you sitting there going, “we can do some stuff”?
A: I think with any preseason game, you don’t want to project anything too far out. You do some good things, you are working more of a game scenario, you work together with your teammates. You figure out communication needs and things like that. You don’t want to talk about stats or points. I think about improving and getting better as a team.
QB Davis Webb
…Your completion percentage often isn’t going to be as high as you would like. I took a lot of shots down the field. I think off the top of my head, I took four or five down the field, I’ve got to complete more of those. I completed two out of five probably, so I’m going to work on those next week in practice. But that’s how you learn. There were some throws I could’ve made easier tonight, could’ve taken some stuff underneath. That’s how you learn. It’s the third preseason game, third game I’ve actually played with practice time and everything, not including last year, so I think I did some good things. (Alonzo Russell) had a catch on that third and long on the post. That was pretty. That was fun to see.
Q: It seemed to me that both you and Eli (Manning) did a lot of moving, a lot of moving pockets going side to side and even throwing on the move. Was that something that was designed going into tonight?
A: Yeah, Eli is very athletic, the most athletic guy on our team, so he did a really good job throwing on the run, made some really nice throws. Guys got open. Cody (Latimer) played great, Sterling Shepard had a great catch on the sideline, but yeah, Eli extended some plays and made some great throws on the run. That’s part of our offense, we’re going to be multiple, and Coach Shurmur did a good job dialing it up.
Q: At the same time, coach Shurmur also told us he was disappointed that the run game was not where it needed to be, especially in the first half. What did you see there?
A: Yeah, I think the safeties were down tight, which allowed us to throw the ball down the field a little bit more. When the safeties are down tight and give you an eight-man box, they’re bringing the strong safeties and free safeties off the edge, the running game is going to be tough to get going at times. You’ve got to stick with it. I think our offensive linemen did a great job, (Brett Jones), and (Jhurrell Pressley), he’s been here for 72 hours and he ran very, very hard. Lot of credit to him. Wayne Gallman did a great job of catching the football and running hard. I think we did some good things, I’m not too worried about our run game. I thought our O line did a great job tonight protecting the quarterback. Again, no sacks, as I can recall, so that’s back to back games. Kudos to those guys. They work hard.
Q: Whether it’s you last week or Eli with 17 of 23 today, Shurmur’s offense is designed for completions, right? It’s a high completion offense?
A: One hundred percent. I know I can get my completion percentage up. There’s a couple close, could’ve gone either way, but we take shots down the field. Your completion percentage is going to go down. Once you start going 15 and under, your completion percentage is going to be higher. We took some shots down the field, I threw a couple posts.
Linebacker Olivier Vernon
Q: What did you think of the defense tonight?
A: I think the first, probably like third down, we started a tad bit slow. As the game started progressing, I felt like we started to pick it up a little bit later. We just got to start fast.
Q: What happened on the play where you pushed (Jets QB) Sam Darnold? Was that a result of the helmet rule change?
A: Yeah, I wasn’t trying to get no fine. He had great balance on that one. I literally thought he was going to throw it away after getting close to him. But yeah, it’s preseason.
Q: Regular season, you would’ve approached that differently?
A: Yeah, probably.
Q: What did you think about the performance of rookie QB Sam Darnold?
A: I think he did pretty good. He was connecting on some throws. He’s pretty impressive – taking off running when he felt that pressure in the pocket. His pocket awareness is pretty good.
Q: Do you think he’s further along than most rookie quarterbacks?
A: I think he did a great job. We just got to see how he does throughout the season. But, I think he has a bright future.
Q: Do you feel like this defense is ready to head into the regular season?
A: We’re going to find out game one.
Q: How do you feel about your guys’ run defense?
A: I feel there’s certain things we still have to fix. But for the most part, as long as we start fast, I feel like we’ll be alright.
Q: It seems like you’re in the backfield every play. Do you feel as if you’re getting more pressure than you usually get in the preseason?
A: I’m just trying to make something happen. (Defensive Coordinator James) Bettcher wants us to be aggressive. So, I’m just playing my part.
WR Sterling Shepard
Q: You and Eli seemed to be in a rhythm, how did it feel being out there tonight?
A: It felt good. When we get things going and moving, this offense can be lethal. It felt good to get out there and get everything going. We just have to clean things up in the red zone.
Q: On the catch when you wrestled the ball away, what was going through your head?
A: I ‘ve been waiting on that one all night. I was going to come up with it no matter where the ball was. Kind of took away my speed because the corner was right there, but it was good.